Fall tends to be a time of reflection for me. You would think it would be summer, being a teacher and all, but fall is my favorite season and is when I feel the most “me”, so to speak.
My favorite things about fall:
- Cool weather (although this year it is STILL in the 80s everyday – weird, Kentucky!)
- Hoodies and sweatshirts and jeans
- Leaves and general natural beauty (I drive through several farms on my way to work and it is gorgeous!)
- Great food – potato soup, grill outs, etc.
- Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Mochas without sweating to death
- Lazy Saturday mornings
- A renewed sense of enthusiasm
- HARRY POTTER WEEKENDS! Although, when DON’T we celebrate Harry Potter?
- Anticipation of three major holidays (Okay, so Christmas isn’t a part of fall, but I start anticipating it in the fall and planning/prepping)
- The return of the school year and finally starting to feel settled in with my new kiddos
- And a NEW favorite this year: a three-week long fall break.
Yep, you read that last one right. My new (old? since I student taught there) school district starts on August 1st and makes up for the early start with three weeks off in October. It’s like the holy grail of school schedules. Just when I’m feeling overwhelmed and having a hard time accomplishing all of my goals (due to lack of time), I get three weeks off. It’s amazing.
I spent the first week of my break at school, of course, but with MUCH less pressure. I helped some kids get caught up (Total aside: we do this awesome thing called EXCEL, which is like summer school but instead of waiting until the end of the year, we catch our kids up at the end of every quarter and try to give them the tools to succeed in the remaining quarters. Doesn’t this make SO much sense???) and I painted most of my giant classroom. I now have a deep plum front wall and bright, light blue other walls. I also grabbed everything I need to work from home over the next two weeks. Sure, I’ll still go in a few days, but I can sleep in a bit and I’m already feeling much more relaxed.
This year, I’m working my TAIL off. I’m teaching K-12 French, which has been a dream of mine for quite some time. It’s a ton of work, though. To my knowledge, I’m running the only elementary French program in our state (the other one listed is now a Spanish program). That means resource availability is scarce and I don’t really have many people to plan with. I did meet several Spanish elementary teachers at a conference this fall which was awesome and helped me get a better idea of what a good program looks like, but the big issue is this: everything I “knew” about teaching languages has changed. In three short years.
Sure, everything has been changing for awhile, but I wasn’t connected to people who knew and/or cared about the transition. I had no idea how comprehensible input was going to change my teaching. But now that I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it. Now that I’ve experienced the research in action, I can’t possibly go back.
Comprehensible input, or TPR/TPRS teaching, is all about natural-style language acquisition, sped up for the classroom. There is so much research to accompany this style of teaching, but the big point is that I’m changing everything about how I teach. And you know what? Before I even fully committed to it, it started working. You see, I kind of made the change at the beginning of this year based on my experience as a third grade teacher last year, which showed me a lot more about how to be an effective teacher. The kids have responded amazingly. I’m continually impressed with how much MORE they can do and produce than my former, traditionally-taught students. And they aren’t even on a full CI program!
The downside is that I have a lot of work to do. But, I had a lot of work to do regardless, so it is really learning more about being a better teacher and doing different work than I had originally imagined.
Still, even with working a ton, I’m sleeping in, seeing my family more, taking naps, drinking wine, hanging out on Facebook and Pinterest, and getting things settled for the rest of the year so I will be less stressed for the rest of the year, and that is completely priceless.
I LOVE MY JOB.